I think everyone feels a little down and out at points in their life. It is rather normal to feel that way after a setback. I know my personal warning signs of this is when I start snacking more and spend more time watching movies. When I’m powering up the TV most nights after the kids go to bed with a pile of chips in my hand…it isn’t a good sign. I recently was feeling a little down so I decided to do something about it.
So I created an ideal schedule for my free time in life that I thought could make me happy. The list wasn’t exhaustive, but included: hanging out with friends and family more, working on larger projects so I feel I accomplish something, going for walks, writing for this blog, reading more fiction just for fun, some movies and cleaning up the accounting on my business so I feel less worried about that. There was just one major problem with this idea…I hate over scheduling my life. From previous experience over scheduling can also be bad for happiness as it removes that options of doing something different as the opportunity come up.
Then I had an idea, what if I don’t schedule each period of free time, but rather tracked what I did do for a week to see if I hit the ideal count for each activity. That way I won’t care if I read Tues and Thurs nights, but as long as I did that twice a week. What I found interesting about this exercise was it generally worked out fairly good, because I had the foresight to include some flex time not assigned to anything. In a given day I typically have three times where I could do these items for an hour or more (first thing when I wake up, lunch hour, and the evening). Here were my ideal counts and recent period of eight days:
- Movie – Ideal 3, Actual 3
- Reading – Ideal 4, Actual 4
- Projects – Ideal 3, Actual 1
- Social & Family- Ideal 3, Actual 7
- Write Blog – Ideal 2, Actual 2
- Business Cleanup – Ideal 1, Actual 2
- Walk – Ideal 2, Actual 0
While I didn’t hit all my ideal counts of activities, I did notice my mood did improve significantly over the course of the week. So broadly I would consider this experiment a success in the short term. I’m interested to keep this up for a month and see what the longer term impacts are. The only issue I’m debating is how to track my choices in a given week to provide feedback on what I’m getting done. So far I just used a piece and paper and wrote down some notes, but I don’t always remember to write that down. Any suggestions on how to track this?
So what do you do in a week to help improve your mood? Do you bother keeping track?